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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday urged the international community to recognize the burden being shouldered by Pakistan while hosting such a large refugee population and demonstrate collective responsibility.

The prime minister, in a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi at the PM House in Islamabad, reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to address the protection and safety needs of people in vulnerable situations and underscored that the international community needed to be mindful of the socio-economic challenges and security threats being faced by Pakistan in this regard, according to a PM Office press release.

While recalling Pakistan’s longstanding partnership with UNHCR, the prime minister appreciated the UN agency’s support to Pakistan in hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades. He noted that despite numerous challenges, Pakistan had hosted Afghan refugees with exemplary respect and dignity.

He sought UNHCR’s support in mobilizing adequate resources to supplement Pakistan’s efforts in this regard and urged the UN body to play its role in promoting durable solutions to address the situation of Afghan refugees, including through safe and dignified return and reintegration in their homeland, as well as third-country relocation.

The UN High Commissioner expressed gratitude for Pakistan’s generosity and hospitality in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for the past many decades and assured that UNHCR would continue to work closely with Pakistan to fulfill the basic needs of the Afghan refugees. UN High Commissioner Grandi is on a three-day official visit to Pakistan from July 7-9, 2024.

Meanwhile, talking to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad today, Filippo Grandi appreciated Pakistan’s hospitality and generosity for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades despite facing challenges on various fronts.

They discussed wide range of issues pertaining to the global refugee situation with a particular focus on Afghan refugees and longstanding cooperation between Pakistan and the UNHCR.

The UN High Commissioner termed Pakistan’s efforts and contributions in hosting Afghan refugees as a remarkable example of the country’s hospitality. He briefed the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on UNHCR’s ongoing projects and emphasized the importance of sustained engagement and cooperation between Pakistan and the UNHCR. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister also shared Pakistan’s perspective and priorities with regard to Afghan refugees.

He underscored that the new humanitarian situations emerging around the world must not divert the global attention away from the needs of millions of Afghans.

Ishaq Dar also underlined the need for continued demonstration of international solidarity and faithful adherence to the principle of international responsibility and burden-sharing. Both sides agreed to continue working closely for the provision of necessary assistance to Afghan refugees, and the implementation of sustainable solutions for their well-resourced, safe and dignified return.

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